Originally published on 2016/08/20. Post-dated to remain at the top of the blog through the primary.
These are all open seats in Tulsa County that drew large candidate fields in the primary, and no one candidate received a majority of the vote. Click the links for more detailed information.
Please note that there are NO state questions on today's runoff ballot. All of them will be on the November 8 general election ballot.
State Senate District 39: Amanda Teegarden: On her own dime and her own time, Amanda has been an effective citizen activist, researching issues, understanding the legislative process, informing her fellow citizens and rallying them to get involved, and applying the right amount of pressure at the right time to help good legislation and to block bad legislation. With her children grown and out of the house, she's now available to apply these skills full-time as a citizen legislator. Oklahomans need her intellect and discernment working for us at the State Capitol.
State Senate District 25: Joe Newhouse: I've had the opportunity to work with Joe on several projects, and I've seen his energy and enthusiasm, his diligence and organizational skills at work firsthand. He's personable and builds good working relationships. From our conversations over the years, I know that Joe Newhouse is strongly committed to his Christian faith, to his family, and to conservative, constitutional principles of government. Joe is a local, going to Broken Arrow Public Schools all the way through. Newhouse flew EA-6B Prowlers in the Iraq War, taught fighter tactics as an instructor at NAS Pensacola, earned a master's degree and certification as a Program Management Professional (PMP), served three years as a field representative for Congressman Jim Bridenstine, and is a Commander in the Navy Reserve, working as a military adviser to NATO.
State House District 67: Scott McEachin: I've known Scott McEachin for a few years now and have always known him to be on the knowledgeable about public policy, principled, friendly, easy to work with, and I believe that District 67 and Oklahoma would be blessed to have him as a member of the legislature. Scott has been endorsed by retired U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn (now a resident of the district) and a number of conservative groups. Coburn writes, "Scott McEachin's experience in oil and gas has given him a critical understanding of the industry that is at the heart of our Oklahoma economy. Scott is uniquely qualified because he has a deep understanding of the issues and will prioritize our government operations to make Oklahoma a state that can lead the nation."
Please note that the opponents of these candidates have been endorsed by a union-backed special interest group that opposes parental choice in education, wants to make quality education less accessible to the poor, and wants more taxpayer money with less accountability for results. Rob Miller, who has become something of a celebrity in the teacher-union blogosphere, recently wrote that Joe "Newhouse will be a willing accomplice" to the "pro parent choice agenda." These people think your children are their property, and it's their right to alienate your children from your values and indoctrinate them in theirs. They want to cut off every avenue of escape from families of modest means. If you want the next generation of Oklahomans to be well-educated, discerning, capable citizens, vote for Teegarden, Newhouse, and McEachin, who will indeed be pro-parent-choice.
Tulsa County Court Clerk: Don Newberry: Newberry currently manages the Title Research department in the County Assessor's office and worked previously in the County Court Clerk's office. Newberry has been endorsed by his boss, County Assessor Ken Yazel, and I am hopeful that, in addition to seeing to the Court Clerk's core responsibilities, Newberry will also be an ally of Yazel's on the Budget Board, fighting for budget transparency in county government.
Other endorsements and questionnaires:
Tulsa 9/12 Project leader Ronda Vuillemont-Smith endorsements
Charlie Biggs at the Tulsa Beacon endorsements
Charlie Meadows, former head of Oklahoma Conservative PAC
Oklahoma Constitution Conservative Index
Oklahomans for Life questionnaire
David Beaudoin of the Local and Special Elections blog has analyzed Oklahoma runoff election results beginning with the 2008 election cycle and has made some interesting findings that set Oklahoma apart.
Among other findings, Beaudoin notes that, unlike other states, Oklahoma incumbents rarely find themselves in runoffs -- none this year, and only one since 2008. Conventional wisdom says that if the first place finisher had 40% or better in the primary, he's a shoo-in for the runoff, but Beaudoin finds that this isn't the case in Oklahoma.
Beaudoin, a CPA and financial analyst, backs up his psephological analysis with a chart (linked from his analysis) showing all runoffs in Oklahoma State Election Board records since 2008 (statewide, federal, and legislative races) alongside the primary results for the same races.
Oklahoma's relative turnout rate -- comparing runoff turnout to primary turnout is comparable to that of other runoff states.
Last Wednesday, on a rainy Dallas afternoon, my wife and I had gotten our son loaded into his dorm room, he'd finished his music theory and musicianship placement exam and was feeling good about it (we later learned that he tested out of first semester), and the three of us were enjoying a delicious lunch of falafel, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and lentil soup at a little Mediterranean cafe off campus (Food from Galilee) when we heard this coming out of the speakers -- an Arabic adaptation of the famous opening to Mozart's Symphony No. 40. It's a good fit.
The singer is a famous Lebanese chanteuse called Fairuz, and the song is called "Ya Ana, Ya Ana." Here are the lyrics in Arabic, transliterated into Roman letters, and translated into English.
While looking for what we heard in the cafe, I found this, a solo guitar adaptation of that famous Mozart melody. You could imagine Dick Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar, whose distinctive style was shaped by his Lebanese heritage, playing it like this.
(Fairuz video found in this collection of Mozart Symphony No. 40 cover versions.)
MORE: David Rollo recommends the Swingle Singers version -- a very faithful adaptation featuring eight a capella voices:
"Are you the new recruit?" asked a heavy voice.
And in some strange way, though there was not the shadow of a shape in the gloom, Syme knew two things: first, that it came from a man of massive stature; and second, that the man had his back to him.
"Are you the new recruit?" said the invisible chief, who seemed to have heard all about it. "All right. You are engaged."
Syme, quite swept off his feet, made a feeble fight against this irrevocable phrase.
"I really have no experience," he began.
"No one has any experience," said the other, "of the Battle of Armageddon."
"But I am really unfit--"
"You are willing, that is enough," said the unknown.
"Well, really," said Syme, "I don't know any profession of which mere willingness is the final test."
"I do," said the other--"martyrs. I am condemning you to death. Good day."
Although this book makes few obvious references to Christianity, its message of people struggling to uphold truth in a world consumed by relativism made me see for the first time that Christianity -- far from being boring and conformist -- could be exciting and oppositional.
Earlier this year, BBC Radio 4 Extra rebroadcast G. K. Chesterton's classic 1908 novel, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. I captured the series of 13 half-hour episodes for later listening and just finished it. Radio 4 Extra, which mines the BBC archives for comedy, drama, and sci-fi, often runs dramatizations of classic novels, but this was different. Except for a few seconds of dramatic strings and mournful horns at the beginning and end of each episode, it was just actor Geoffrey Palmer reading the story, unabridged, without sound effects or the assistance of other actors -- nothing but Chesterton's words and Palmer's vocal inflections -- and it was gripping. I hated for it to end.
Early voting for Tuesday's runoff continues through 6 pm today at the Tulsa County Election Board headquarters and at the Hardesty Regional Library and will be available again on Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm.
State Senate District 25 candidate Lisa Kramer has declined to participate in a head-to-head debate with conservative Joe Newhouse on KFAQ's Pat Campbell show in advance of the Tuesday, August 23, 2016, Republican runoff election. From KFAQ's website:
Lisa Kramer is running for Oklahoma Senate and is facing a runoff Tuesday August 23rd with the Jim Bridenstine endorsed Joe Newhouse in District 25.
Kramer was offered a chance to come on The Pat Campbell Show and participate in an on-air debate with Newhouse, but refused saying her schedule was "booked solid."
We have invited Mr. Newhouse to come into the studio anyway and tell District voters why they should choose him on Tuesday, and he has agreed to do so.
Campbell has hosted numerous debates over more than eight years as host of KFAQ's morning drive and has a reputation for even-handedness and giving each candidate a fair chance to convey his or her platform to the listening audience.
Newhouse posted the following comment in response to Kramer's decision:
I believe that Government Transparency begins with candidates being candid and forthright about their positions. This includes maintaining websites that contain plans & positions and not just platitudes. It also means making yourself available to the public, not just hiding behind mailers. I was disappointed to receive an accusational mailer from my opponent, who refused participation in the KFAQ debate despite advanced invitation. I realize that campaigns can be stressful, but overreaction and name-calling only serve to turn people off from the political process and destroy unity. As an officer & a gentleman, I am proud of the clean campaign that I have run, which includes not publishing embarrassing episodes from the other debate. As my opponent offers little content on her website (e.g. how she actually intends to pay for things), I am left only with her public statements and survey results with which to draw my distinctions.
The two SD25 candidates debated at the Tulsa Republican Club meeting last month. You can watch the debate online. The "embarrassing episodes" may refer to Kramer's inability to name any positive achievements of the legislature in response to a debate question; Newhouse mentioned a criminal justice reform bill and eliminating End of Instruction tests among a few other items; Kramer concurred with Newhouse but had nothing to add on her own.
Here is the podcast of the SD 25 KFAQ debate that Joe Newhouse attended and Lisa Kramer declined to attend.
According to official election records, Kramer was a registered Democrat until changing her registration to Republican less than three years ago, on September 5th, 2013. Given the recent dominance of the GOP in Oklahoma politics, there would be an incentive to switch parties to have more of an influence over the ultimate result of the election, or even to have a chance at winning election to office in heavily Republican districts like SD 25.
On the Oklahomans for Life survey, Kramer answered "no" and Newhouse answered "yes" to the question, "Upon reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, will you vote for a law that would protect the lives of unborn children and prohibit abortion except to prevent the death of the mother?" (Kramer and Newhouse both said they would support a law that includes exceptions for legally-reported rape and incest.)
Kramer signed the petition to put the Boren sales tax increase on the November ballot and has defended that decision publicly, although she says she will vote against the tax. Newhouse opposes the tax and opposed putting the tax on the ballot.
Kramer has been enthusiastically endorsed by left-wing bloggers and organizations that support the proposed state sales tax increase for schools and oppose measures that expand parental choice in education. Kramer has received funding from PACs affiliated with the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Oklahoma State Chamber and left-wing public-employee labor unions like the Oklahoma Educational Association and Oklahoma Public Employees Association. (Click the link if you need a refresher on why a Chamber endorsement should scare off conservative voters.)
A shadowy group called Oklahomans for a Prosperous Future has spent $15,838.40 on direct mail in support of Kramer, paying that money to Majority Designs Invoicing. Oddly, a mailer received by SD 25 voters yesterday says it was paid for by "Oklahomans for a Responsible Government" -- a group that doesn't show up in the Oklahoma Ethics Commission database for the current or previous campaign cycles. Is this a typo on the part of the direct mail firm, or a deliberate attempt at confusing voters with a name that sounds like that of a now-defunct conservative watchdog group? A group called Oklahomans for Responsible Government (without the indefinite article) was active from 2008-2010, leading the opposition to the ill-conceived, teachers-union-backed SQ 744, which would have constitutionally tied Oklahoma's spending on education to that of other states.
The disclosure report for Oklahomans for a Prosperous Future, Inc., was filed by Clayton Woodrum, 321 S. Boston Ave, Ste 200, Tulsa OK 74103. The organization's IRS Form 990 for 2014 (the only one available on Guidestar.org) misspells its own name ("Oklahoman's for a Prosperous Future, Inc.") and states its mission as "TO PROMOTE SOCIAL WELFARE CONCERNING PUBLIC POLICY RELATED TO HEALTH, EDUCATION, FISCAL AND BUDGET ISSUES." It received $470,000 in contributions and grants in 2014. In that year it spent $361,085 to "ADVOCATE FOR PUBLIC POLICY", another $43,824 on "VOTER REGISTRATION EXPENSES," and $43,693 on "SUPPORT OR OPPOSE CANDIDATES' CAMPAIGN." Devin L. Hughes is listed as President, Karl Semtner as Secretary, and Clayton Woodrum as Treasurer. In 2014, OPF spent $250,000 with Hulsen Media Services LLC on TV ads. Hughes is co-author of the anti-gun-rights blog ArmedWithReason. Semtner contributed to the 2012 and 2014 campaigns of Democrat District 92 State Rep. Richard Morrissette, Woodrum contributed to Heather Nash, Democrat candidate for SD 11. The group's TV ad attacking tax incentives for horizontal drilling drew the ire of State Sen. Cliff Branan, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, who said the group was "incorporated by an individual who has given tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Barack Obama." It seems fair to say that the activities of Oklahomans for a Prosperous Future and its identified supporters points in a strongly leftward direction, which makes its intervention on behalf of Lisa Kramer in a Republican primary revealing, particularly if Kramer chooses not to denounce their involvement on her behalf.
1170 KFAQ's Pat Campbell hosted a SD 39 debate between Amanda Teegarden and Dave Rader. Click to listen to the podcast.
The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund has endorsed Amanda Teegarden in the Republican runoff for Senate District 39. The race will be resolved in a runoff next Tuesday, August 23, 2016. (Early in-person voting began today and continues Friday from 8 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm at the Tulsa County Election Board and Hardesty Regional Library.
The NRA awarded Teegarden an AQ -- an A rating based on her questionnaire, the highest rating available to a candidate who has not yet served in office. Her runoff opponent, Dave Rader, received a B rating.
Meanwhile, this past Monday, August 15, 2016, according to Oklahoma Ethics Committee filings for Friends of Dave Rader 2016, Rader received a $2,000 last-minute contribution from "We Mean Business PAC," an arm of the State Chamber of Oklahoma.
As I wrote back in June, if you're a conservative voting in the Republican primary, a good rule of thumb is to see whom the Chambers are supporting then give your vote to some other candidate.
Let me stipulate that Dave Rader is a good man who ran the University of Tulsa football program with integrity and genuine concern for his players as students. In 2003, he served honorably as Tulsa County GOP vice chairman during a difficult time of transition for the county party. I don't think the State Chamber is backing him as their first choice in the SD 39 race -- Oklahoma BizPAC and BOK Financial PAC backed Alan Staab in the primary, while New Direction Fund PAC backed Rick Poplin, both of whom failed to advance to the runoff. Perhaps it boils down to this: The State Chamber pots know they can't influence Amanda Teegarden, who knows how the legislative process works and has settled principles on the proper role of government, but they hope they might be able to sway Dave Rader, who hasn't been actively involved in public matters for over a decade.
I think it's worth repeating some of the specific reasons why a candidate's funding or endorsement by the State Chamber should be of interest and concern to conservative voters to support a different candidate.
As for the State Chamber of Commerce, they joined with the Tulsa, Oklahoma City chambers and the U. S. Chamber in a lawsuit to block implementation of employment-related provisions of HB 1804, provisions that would have required Oklahoma employers to verify the employment eligibility of the people they hired. In other words, the Chambers at all levels worked to take the teeth out of the law, to disarm the provisions that made it an effective deterrent to illegal immigration.
The State Chamber also pushed hard for Obamacare Medicaid expansion (euphemistically called "rebalancing" this year) and Common Core. The State Chamber targeted a strongly pro-business conservative Republican, State Sen. Josh Brecheen, for defeat because he supported Common Core repeal and opposed a special tax cut for energy producers, preferring instead to give general tax relief to the state's taxpayers.
Back in 2007, economist Stephen Moore wrote:In Oklahoma the state chamber filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to block eminent domain reform, and vowed to fight a taxpayer-led movement to enact a Colorado-style [taxpayer bill of rights].
This transcript of a July 2012 State Chamber meeting in Tahlequah quotes the chamber's lobbyist, Chad Warmington, saying, "the legislature spends a lot of time talking about things that just don't matter - I mean, they want to talk about tax cuts and all that stuff."
Also in 2012, then-State Rep. David Dank bemoaned the role "pro-business" lobbyists played in preserving special interest tax credits at the expense of tax relief for all Oklahomans (hat tip to OCPA's Brandon Dutcher):Sadly, those same lobbyists who secured sweetheart deals for the beneficiaries of tax credits managed to kill most efforts to reform or repeal them during the 2012 session. We did manage to phase out two of the most abused and wasteful tax credits, but dozens of others are being reinstated in July.
In short, the special interests won and the people lost. A primary reason Oklahoma taxpayers will see no income tax relief next year is that a few favored industries will continue to cash in on the public treasury through a still-broken tax credit system.
I would advise any conservative candidate who receives a contribution from a PAC affiliated with the Oklahoma State Chamber, the Oklahoma City Chamber, or the Tulsa Regional Chamber to return the money immediately. You don't want to be tainted.
The City Council and the Mayor didn't need to put Vision Tulsa on a special April ballot. The Vision 2025 tax doesn't expire until December 31. They had plenty of time to perform due diligence, get solid estimates, consider consequences and hidden costs, but they wanted it on a low-turnout election date, and it was all about getting approval for the dams.
Now we're learning about some of those hidden costs and our dear sweet city councilors are expressing regrets. Jarrel Wade reports in the Tulsa World:
City officials gave city councilors details Thursday on millions of dollars the city eventually will need to support the hiring of additional police officers and firefighters with Vision Tulsa money.
Adding more than 160 police officers and 65 firefighters to the public-safety ranks will require direct support from other city departments, including information technology, human resources, asset management and medical.
IT Department costs alone for the technology involved in policing will run about $645,000 per year, city officials estimated.
All told, the estimated cost of supporting the additional staff eventually will reach almost $2 million per year that wasn't specifically added to Vision Tulsa's public safety permanent tax.
But it's OK, because we won't hire all those officers overnight, so it'll be a while before those support costs will be realized.
Paying for it out of the tax proceeds would mean less money to hire police officers and firefighters. But finding the money in the city's general fund would mean more burden on already restricted funding for other departments -- a burden that the public-safety tax was designed to alleviate.
But it's OK because the councilors are really, really sorry they rushed this to a ballot before analyzing the costs.
[Councilor Phil] Lakin and Councilor Anna America said they regret that the support costs of the public-safety tax weren't specifically built into the package.
"We should have thought through better, earlier, and said, 'Hey, let's make sure we accommodate this,' " America said, saying Thursday's report is a lesson for future packages.
"No funding package should go through without this kind of analysis happening first and making sure that we accommodate that in the funding package."
I believe I said something like that, very early in the process:
Not only is the proposed package far from a cohesive vision, but the Basis of Estimate (BoE) -- the details that justify the amount budgeted -- for each item is dreadfully inadequate. There's reason to believe that the estimates are way off, which means that some ideas that could be funded won't be, and other ideas will be promised (like the low-water dams in Vision 2025, or the juvenile justice facililty in Four to Fix the County) and attract votes, but won't have any possibility of being built without going back to the voters for more money....
The better path would be for the Council to whittle down the list and propose a shorter-term (five years, max), pay-as-you-go (no "advanced funding" line item for interest and bond fees) sales tax that funded only those items that were of general public benefit and had been thoroughly vetted for feasibility and an accurate estimate of cost.
Dear Councilors Lakin and America: Be grown-ups, take responsibility for your failure to do your job, and resign.
Oklahomans vote on August 23, 2016, a runoff in a small number of races where no candidate received a majority of the vote in the June primary.
U. S. Representative Jim Bridenstine has made endorsements in two of those Republican runoff primaries for open State Senate seats in Tulsa County.
In Senate District 39, Bridenstine has endorsed Amanda Teegarden, citing her solid base of principle, consistent record of involvement, and her deep understanding of the legislative process:
I am happy to support and endorse Amanda Teegarden in her run to serve the people of State Senate District 39. Amanda Teegarden is a staunch conservative who has worked for Republican causes for many years. Amanda's knowledge of the State Legislature puts her in a unique position that affords Republicans in District 39 the opportunity to elect a member that will have no need for on the job training.
With Amanda Teegarden, we will be electing a conservative that we can trust to get the job done in Oklahoma City. Please join me on August 23rd in supporting Amanda Teegarden for State Senate!
In Senate District 25, Bridenstine has endorsed Joe Newhouse:
It is with great pride that I am announcing my endorsement of fellow Navy pilot and true conservative, Commander Joe Newhouse for State Senate in District 25.
As a combat veteran and successful business owner, he is uniquely qualified to lead in the Oklahoma State Senate.
I know him to be a principled conservative, and I believe he will serve our state with the same honor and courage he has displayed while serving our country as a Navy pilot.
I am proud to endorse Commander Joe Newhouse for State Senate and am asking you to join me in voting for him in the runoff election on August 23rd.
Having known both of these candidates personally for many years, I concur with the congressman's endorsements and rationale. If you're a Republican in either SD 25 or SD 39, I urge you to mark your calendar and go vote on Tuesday, August 23, 2016.
(The Oklahoma state senate gerrymander of Tulsa County districts defies description, so here's a map. And no, the Republicans didn't invent gerrymanders -- Democrats did plenty of it when they controlled the legislature.)